Who am I trying to please?

15055305603041259316492

I enjoy writing. Sharing my true thoughts can feel incredibly courageous. But more often than not, I measure my success or failure by other’s responses or lack thereof. Even though I know (intellectually) that I don’t have to measure my worth by whether or not anyone else values me or my contributions, it’s still so ingrained in me that it’s done before I know it.

Somewhere I heard an interesting thing about children of alcoholic/addicts. Those whose parents struggle(d) with an addiction look to others to see how they should feel. This resonates with me. Maybe that’s related to my lifelong people-watching habit.

I think it is.

Is that why I figure my worth by the reflection of myself that I see in your face?

I’m a writer. I love words. Heck, my son calls me Word Woman! As important as it is to me to put my thoughts down on paper, I wonder if I’d change it if there was no one reading other than me. But, really, for whom am I writing?

I’m probably not ever going to be a famous writer. I don’t know that that’s even a thing that I want. I want to make a difference in the world, and writing may or may not have anything to do with that. I trust that my God is leading me to find my way.

Following Him will be the answer to my Search for Significance.

What about you? Who are you writing for?

Advertisements

Int’l Overdose Awareness Day

As someone who has attended too many funerals due to overdose, I am asking you to share this image. How many people do YOU know that would give anything to hold their parent or child just One. More. Time? 

As long as we continue to share our stories and educate our world as to the truth about drug addiction, there will be hope. 

If you are one who’s had a loved one taken by addiction, please don’t stop speaking out. The less condemnation an addict feels from those who could instead be helping them to learn how to live again…the more likely that addict is going to be to actually ask for help. 

Outside of recovery – which is available as long as there is life – addicts only have three choices for their tomorrows: 

Jails

Institutions

Death.

Contempt and disgust haven’t worked to spare any addicts life, so let’s try love and compassionate action. What can it hurt? 

10 or so paragraphs

Hi; It’s me!

Yeah, it’s been a while, and I’ve been trying to put words to why that is, but the words aren’t coming. Yet, I must write. 

So far, 2017 hasn’t been a lot different from 2016. Hubby’s still employed, I’m working (2 part-time jobs), and the boy hates school. Nothing much has changed…and yet, some things have. 

I’ve been wanting to work on getting off of the antidepressants for a while, and apparently that time hasn’t arrived. As I sit here I think I am probably due for an increase.  

I haven’t gotten to get to any meetings to speak of, since I work so much on the weekend that by the time I get off (MAYBE) in time for Celebrate Recovery, I just want to get home and eat and then to bed. However, there are moments, too, when I think I’m squarely where I’m supposed to be, for now, even without gettign to church or meetings FOR NOW.

 I mean, I’m working at a “Home Improvement” store in the outside garden area on the weekends, and this week I begin my other part-time gig at the newly expanded Detox in a large town nearby. For the last 3 weeks, I’ve been in training M-Th, and the last 2 were spent earning a certificate that says I’ve been trained as a Peer Recovery Specialist! I’m only going to get 15 hours there, at the moment, but I am hopeful that it will turn into fulltime soon. 

I’ve been thinking about the impermanence in my life, lately, too… Why am I so used to letting go, of people, places, things, jobs, pets…? I don’t expect much of anything to last, really. It seems like that’s a symptom of PTSD, but I’m not sure. I notice the difference when I interact with folks who are more or less my age, and they’ve always lived within 100 miles of where they were born. They married once and  now,  20-30 years later, they have a family and are still happily wed. When someone talks about working in the same place for over 5 years, I get kind of lost. When they say 15-20-30 years, and they’re MY AGE, I just can’t wrap my head around it. 

 Anyway, I’m enjoying the people I work with at the Home Improvement store, and the customers are nice, too. The only real downside is that the lifting and loading of 20-50 pound bags of mulch, patio stones, and etc is making it difficult to ignore the scoliosis and the pain in my back. Being outside most of the day is good for me, I’m sure. I can’t remember the last time I was outside as much as I am there, and I like it! The flowers are all in bloom and the nursery is FULL, and I love seeing the incredible array of colors and shapes. The flowers range from the size of a pencil eraser to as big around as a softball, and the scent is almost intoxicatingly beautiful. Then there are the birds. 🙂

So, I think the problem I’ve had recently, which honestly began months ago, is that my insecurities about myself lead me to (or are caused by?) compare myself to others, and guess what? Yes, you’re right. They ALWAYS come out better than me. 

I have loved to people-watch since I was a teenager. Now I watch people to see how things are “supposed” to be done, like hair, clothes, makeup, social cues. I think it goes back to the idea of being a Pilgrim in this world that influences me to not get attached to trends, or celebrities, or…what have you. Does that make any sense? 

I’ve only begun trying to wear make-up again for the last yearr or so, after about a 25-year hiatus. Geez, the last time I looked in the mirror that often, there were NONE of the lines & wrinkles I see now. I am grateful to have lived this long, but I don’t know how I feel about AGING. 

So. That’s a lot of why I have been quiet of late. I don’t feel like I have anything encouraging or positive to say, so I stay quiet. Is that another result of the Social Media world – only showing our happy, and “UP” side? I know if I looked at most everyone’s Facebook pictures, I’d swear noone else has ever been depressed. I know that’s not the truth. Maybe a hiatus from FB/Twitter would do me good. I expect I’ll have some things to write about in the coming weeks…but for now, I’m just gonna keep on “working out my own salvation”, and see where He leads me next. 

I hope your Spring is bright and sunny. Here’s a picture of something from the Garden Center.  

Hurt People Hurt People

​It’s been quiet here in Wondrland, and it’s not because I haven’t wanted to say anything. I’ve been wanting to talk about Mental Illness, and haven’t been certain how to approach the conversation. Cos, you know, that’s something you’re “not supposed to talk about”. But since there’s not a day that goes by when I’m not faced with evidence of mental illness in someone I know, including myself, I want to talk about it.

As you probably know, mental illness can be hereditary or it can be a response to events in a person’s life. Something that you may not be aware of (I wasn’t for a long time) is that a mental illness can begin to appear at any point in a person’s life. Childhood, adulthood, or any other time of life, things can begin to go…sideways. The part that matters most, I suppose, is when the “differences” start to be addressed and treated. 
When I began to have concerns about my child’s behavior, I was told  “that’s just how boys are!” and also, from my family members, “You were the same way at that age!” Which caused me to wonder if that’s just how the boys in MY family have always been, and if there was something going on with ME at that age that might have been handled differently, and had a seriously more positive outcome?

So I began searching the web for information to explain the things I was noticing in my boy.  I found a lot of answers to the questions that had been running through my head, and raised some new questions! For example, I had not been aware that symptoms of ADHD/ADD look very different in boys than they do in girls. I accredit this ignorance to the fact that nobody was talking about ANY kind of mental illness in children back in the 60’s and 70’s. At least, nobody my parents or I knew. 
I can’t even describe the feelings I had when I heard that when I was being punished for being “lazy” or “daydreaming” or “lying” about things I was POSITIVE I had not lied about, that it wasn’t my fault. As a young girl, I was disciplined for all of these things. Rigorously. And often. I now know that my Dad had been through essentially the same traumas when he was young.   Come to find out, I’d had the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder as far back as I can remember. Growing out of that period came the depression, “generalized anxiety disorder” and PTSD that have been my continual companions ever since. The realization that there was something unusual about the way my mind processed things motivated me to find out as much as I could about psychology. I knew I was different by the time I was about 12 or so, but didn’t know what “IT” was, exactly.  I’ll never forget the first book I read about a person my age that had a mental illness. “Lisa, Bright and Dark” told of the daily life of a teen girl who was behaving increasingly strangely, and how it was ignored, denied, and finally addressed. It shined a light on a part of me that I’d never taken out of the shadows before. It told me that I wasn’t the only one. 

You can find more info about Lisa, Bright and dark on Google or Amazon. (I tried to post a link for ya, but it doesn’t seem to be working.)

I remember my Dad asking me what I had to be sad about?! I had such a good life (and it’s not wrong, by many standards, I was VERY blessed), and I was so “ungrateful” I should be “ashamed”. And of course, I was. For a very long time. I’m not certain that I’ve gotten past that shame, even now.  It seems like a good time to write down what the difference between guilt and shame is. As I have come to understand it,  GUILT is the feeling I get when I’ve done something wrong, or BAD. SHAME is the feeling that I am BAD or WRONG. Period. How many times did our parents tell us “Shame on you”? I couldn’t tell you, but I did share what I’d learned about the difference, the next time I was told that I should be ashamed. 
So, it took years of discussion with my Mom before she accepted that antidepressants weren’t “drugs”, and they didn’t cause you to feel high. Thank God, she wasn’t so hesitant to get me to a counselor when I hit my teens, but medication was a tougher pill for her to swallow (see what I did there?). Several years ago she was even able to be helped by taking them for a while. I’m happy to say that she doesn’t seem to need them at this point. 

And so, now the generational “quirks,” we’ll call them, have shown themselves in other parts of my extended family. As the children grow into their teens and young adulthood, they’re giving (me) reasons to be concerned. I see the same symptoms that I showed at that age, and I can only hope and pray that the stigma and “what will the neighbors think?” won’t keep the adults from getting the kids to a Dr. of some sort. I understand that everyone is busy, running as fast as they possibly can to…I don’t know, rest? And I absolutely know that the cost associated with mental illness treatment can be intimidating. But guess what? If it HAS to be done, we find a way. (And if we’re not willing to address/treat the problem, we find an EXCUSE.)

I can’t help but think of my Dad, and his distaste (translated: refusal) in asking for help.  When I was probably about 10, I was at my Dad’s house and he was “partying” and dancing around, having a good time. I think Elton John was playing loudly on the record player. Well, somehow, Dad danced in the wrong place and caused the horizontal blinds to fall down onto his foot. THAT ended the dancing. For the next 2 hours or so, my stepmom and Grandma tried to explain to Dad that the end of his toe was BARELY attached, and he needed to get to the ER. He didn’t think it was that bad. He musta been HIGHHIGHHIGHHIIIGH. 

Then, many years later, when his life was in a downward spiral because of his drinking and drug use, he again insisted that he didn’t need any help, thank you very much. If the helicopters would stop flying over his shed, and the spies would stop creeping around his house, he would have been fine. But just in case, he always had a loaded .38 handy. It takes some of us longer than others to have our denial broken down. Thank God he did get clean/sober, and the rest is wonderful history. 

So, it makes me think of Dad when I hear adults replying (re: getting their kids to see someone or see if perhaps medication would help) “Counselors are a waste of money” or, even better “We don’t have time”. I love what I heard James Dobson say about parenting older childen. He said that up until that time, it’s like you’re on a ship with them, teaching them the roaps and how to stay safe, etc. Once they get to their teens, we have to pick our battles carefuly, and just keep them from jumping ship. My kids have done infinitely better with negotiating the rough waters than I did, and I attribute that to their getting help when they did. I just happened to have personal experience  that allowed me to recognise the symptoms in my children.  

Depression in kids may not look the way you’d expect it to. Kids aren’t likely to necessarily let you see the depth of their despair. (I was told to stop being such a baby when I was unable to keep my sadness from coming out.) Kids and teenagers, AREN’T supposed to be continually sad or angry (anger is what we see when sadness isn’t “allowed”), and it’s not just a part of that period. Sure, moodiness is guaranteed to be a frequest visitor when the hormones are flying around, but that’s different from being angry or sad ALL THE TIME. The worst thing we as parents can do is to be overcome by pride, not wanting to find out what “they” would think. 10 or 20 years down the road, “they” won’t even be in your life, and if they are, they still won’t be as valuable as your child’s wellbeing. Right? 
I am sometimes hesitent to speak up about matters of mental health. I was shamed and punished enough to make it quite clear to me: act normal and don’t talk about anything. It’s still a subtle influencer on my decisions today.  I appreciate your taking time out of your day to read this. I feel strongly about these issues and I’m not sure if I am able to make that clear in my writing. So I throw it out there, and hope someone catches something they can use. 

What are your thoughts? Have you seen addictions and mental illness moving down your family’s bloodline? How is it dealt with, or is it?
From my cabin in the woods. 

Twist Cap to Vent

I’m pretty sure that anything that I experience can, in one way or another, serve to teach me something. Sometimes it’s several things. 

Really, each friend, each teacher, each intimate relationship, even work relationships have taught me a lesson, or lessons. One taught me that I was not what the abusers and bullies said I was. I was delightful and loveable. 

A few of my childhood friendships taught me that it was OK to be different, it was OK to be awkward, and I when I began this Recovery journey, many of my associates taught me that I didn’t ever have to be alone, again. 

I’ve had a variety of lessons from co-workers. Usually I learn from them how to better accomplish what the job requires, but during break time, I’ve gotten information on things as diverse as parenting a special needs baby and the best place to get a haircut. 

The last places where I worked taught me about how great it can be to work together with people of different educational levels, different colors, ages, intellectual abilities, and belief systems.I have been blessed to work with many hard working, caring, and dedicated people in the field of Human Services. 

On the other hand, I’ve worked with more than a couple of people who were lazy at best, and apathetic about the health and well-being of the clients, at worst. 

I’ve been confused as to why these people want to do this kind of work, and also why the employers allow them to keep their jobs when their care of the clients can blatantly cross the line into neglect, even when co-workers make multiple reports to their supervisors with nothing done. NOTHING. 

So, I think I’m beginning to get it. I would rather not, but over the last several months I’ve started to see what’s going on.  The employers aren’t able to keep the good workers, due in part to the poor workers getting all the same benefits as those who actually WORK, so they keep the poor workers. The good workers see the neglect and laziness of their co-workers and eventually find work elsewhere, after coming to accept that their own efforts are merely drops of water in a crap-filled bucket.

I know why the poor workers are here: no consequences for their actions, and they get paid for literally looking at their phones for 7-8 hours at a stretch. Heck, if I knew someone else would do all the dirty work, I’d be tempted to take it easy occasionally, too. But that’s not happened, even when the co-worker was given every opportunity to step up, just a little. 

I am presently learning more about God’s will vs. my will. 

I was called a few days before Christmas by a prospective employer, and had an interview set up about 2 weeks later. (2 whole weeks to be nervous, right?!) The day before the interview, I was called & told that it would have to be postponed, due to illness. Oh, OK. God’s will is ALWAYS much slower coming than mine, which isn’t to say that every time something takes forever it’s God’s will, but in this sort of thing, I believe it is. So, I wait to get a call back to set another date. And I wait, and time is creeping by (impatience is a difficult thing to conquer!), and while it totally feels like I waited 3 more weeks,  it’s actually been about a week. 
I FINALLY got a call today to set the interview date! I’m psyched! So, maybe in a couple of days? The start of next week? Oh, heck, naw.

 It’s not for TWO MORE WEEKS!! Sigh.

The title of this post came from something on a laundry soap container at work, while filling up the washer for the 3rd or 4th time in a shift. I looked at the words “Twist Cap to Vent” and my immediate thought was “I could stand to vent! But I don’t have a cap to twist! Reckon this will just have to be blogging goodness.” 

I try not to vent to my incredible husband as much as I feel like it, and there’s not really a lot of other choices, so here it is. 

Do you try to see the lesson in experiences, good or bad? What’s something you’ve  learned recently? 

Written in a group home.

Stand Up

As this new year begins to settle in, many folks will be beginning the precarious tight-rope walk of sobriety. This post is full of wisdom.

Days sober: 88  (and made it through the holidays) “Trying to help an addict is like watching someone drown in 4 feet of water and not being able to convince them that they can save themselve…

Source: Stand Up

Why Do We Procrastinate The Things We Want Most?

Hey, gang, it’s time for another WONDERFUL Guest Blogger! As you know, I only share the best writers with you all, and this girl is no exception. Without further adeau, I give you Christine Hill

Why Do We Procrastinate the Things We Want Most?

By Christine Hill

I think one of the most useful skills that I learned in college was how to write a 10-page paper in one night.

0b4ivuptdil02ukrgmg9nbuf0ztg.jpeg

That’s right. I was one of those students. The major pity is that I kept getting away with it, so I really didn’t have much incentive to change my ways. Now that I’m an adult and there are certain things that simply CANNOT be put off (like the rent check) I’ve learned a little bit more self-regulation. But procrastination is still something I struggle with.

20% of the population considers themselves “chronic procrastinators.” And because it has such a major impact on job performance, tapping into our potential, and creative power, it’s the subject of an awful lot of research. For business start-ups and managers, especially, it can be difficult to decide when to “pull the trigger” and just put an idea into action. Amidst all the research, I think the most effective insights into procrastination are detailed by Tim Urban, author of Wait but Why.

A vivid dramatization of the procrastinator’s struggle is the subject, both on his website, and in his TED talk. Check it out below. It will strike a dramatic chord with anyone who has found themselves panicking the day before a major essay is due.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arj7oStGLkU

Because so many people tend to procrastinate, it can be hard to share a one-size-fits all solution. Instead, I’m going to share a few different ways to look at it, and you can decide which one strikes a chord for you:

Connect with the Future Self

One study at Stanford monitored the neural pathways of subjects when they were asked to envision themselves, a stranger, and their future self. For some students, envisioning their future self was much closer to envisioning a stranger than to envisioning their current selves. Others felt a closer kinship and continuity with the future self. Can you guess which group held the worst procrastinators?

Many behavioral theorists believe that procrastination is caused by a disconnect between the current and future self. We prioritize immediate gratification over long-term rewards. There are a few ways that you can trick yourself out of this mindset, though. A study at USC found that when people phrase future plans and deadlines in terms of days rather than months or years, they’re more likely to take action quickly. For example, 3 months away feels a lot farther than 90 days or less. So, in order to connect with your future self, or overcome the divide:

  • Think in terms of days, or even hours.
  • Be realistic about your future expectations.
  • Make a habit of visualizing your future self and the consequences you’ll need to deal with.

Focus on One Step at a Time

Another study on procrastination observed that students procrastinated less if the deadlines were closer and the projects were smaller. In other words, dividing a big task into a lot of little tasks can motivate you to get a project done better. This might sound really obvious, but the science–and the actual implementation of it–is always more complicated than it seems at first.

Breaking down a large task into numerous small ones takes advantage of our natural tendency to value immediate gratification over long-term results. After all, it’s hard to look forward to the reward of working out every day when it could take months for you to start seeing results. However, if you start anticipating a reward that you get with every workout, it can be a lot easier to motivate yourself. Even the rush of completing a task can activate our brain’s reward center. So, in order to use your natural instincts to your own advantage, try breaking down large tasks into small ones with lots of deadlines. Instead of getting overwhelmed with a colossal task, take it one step at a time.

Confronting Fear

I saved this approach for last because for me, it’s the most striking and motivating. It boils down to one cold hard fact: we procrastinate to avoid pain. To be completely blunt, procrastinators let their life be ruled by fear. Look back at the Wait but Why illustration. Only when the fear of turning in nothing overwhelms the fear of turning in something crappy (i.e. the Panic Monster kicks into high gear) does anything get done.

Phil Stutz and Barry Michels shared an excellent parallel to help procrastinators overcome the habit. They theorize that every procrastinator procrastinates simply in order to avoid pain for as long as possible. Think about the things you put off; they’re unpleasant things that you don’t want to face. It’s a social situation that could be awkward, a time that you risk rejection, something that will require effort and sweat from you. Phil came to know the star runner on the High School football team and came to learn something profound. This boy wasn’t the star runner because he was better at running. He wasn’t stronger or faster than anyone else. He was the best because he ran toward pain instead of trying to avoid it.

0b4ivuptdil02sfd5v3nytnrqwtg.jpeg

He knew that when he tackled someone, it would hurt for a minute, but afterward, he would feel on top of the world! So he learned to run toward pain because on the other side was his actual goal.

Megan Mcardle posits an interesting theory in her article “Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators.” She points out that kids who were good at English class tend to have a “fixed mind-set” instead of a “growth mind-set” and believe that tests and challenges aren’t a way to learn new things, but rather it’s a way to sift people into their fixed values. Therefore, the true fear behind procrastination is that ultimately, we’re not enough, and now it will be proven to everyone.

Therefore, when you’re tempted to procrastinate, you need to ask yourself one simple question: are you going to be ruled by fear?

Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.

I need to tell you all, that during the time I was trying to get this post up, the biggest problem I encountered was, you guessed it, procrastination. (Thanks, God!) I guess this is a timely message for all of us. And P. S., Christine, I am a firm believer in the power of a pint of ice cream to make all things better. 🙂